WO2009155650A1 - Enhanced performance implantable microphone system - Google Patents

Enhanced performance implantable microphone system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2009155650A1
WO2009155650A1 PCT/AU2009/000811 AU2009000811W WO2009155650A1 WO 2009155650 A1 WO2009155650 A1 WO 2009155650A1 AU 2009000811 W AU2009000811 W AU 2009000811W WO 2009155650 A1 WO2009155650 A1 WO 2009155650A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
hearing aid
microphone
acoustic
implanted
implantable
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2009/000811
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Koen Van Den Heuvel
Original Assignee
Cochlear Limited
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AU2008903255A priority Critical patent/AU2008903255A0/en
Priority to AU2008903255 priority
Application filed by Cochlear Limited filed Critical Cochlear Limited
Publication of WO2009155650A1 publication Critical patent/WO2009155650A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04RLOUDSPEAKERS, MICROPHONES, GRAMOPHONE PICK-UPS OR LIKE ACOUSTIC ELECTROMECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS; DEAF-AID SETS; PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEMS
    • H04R25/00Deaf-aid sets, i.e. electro-acoustic or electro-mechanical hearing aids; Electric tinnitus maskers providing an auditory perception
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61NELECTROTHERAPY; MAGNETOTHERAPY; RADIATION THERAPY; ULTRASOUND THERAPY
    • A61N1/00Electrotherapy; Circuits therefor
    • A61N1/18Applying electric currents by contact electrodes
    • A61N1/32Applying electric currents by contact electrodes alternating or intermittent currents
    • A61N1/36Applying electric currents by contact electrodes alternating or intermittent currents for stimulation
    • A61N1/36036Applying electric currents by contact electrodes alternating or intermittent currents for stimulation of the outer, middle or inner ear
    • A61N1/36038Cochlear stimulation
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04RLOUDSPEAKERS, MICROPHONES, GRAMOPHONE PICK-UPS OR LIKE ACOUSTIC ELECTROMECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS; DEAF-AID SETS; PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEMS
    • H04R2225/00Details of deaf aids covered by H04R25/00, not provided for in any of its subgroups
    • H04R2225/67Implantable hearing aids or parts thereof not covered by H04R25/606
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04RLOUDSPEAKERS, MICROPHONES, GRAMOPHONE PICK-UPS OR LIKE ACOUSTIC ELECTROMECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS; DEAF-AID SETS; PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEMS
    • H04R25/00Deaf-aid sets, i.e. electro-acoustic or electro-mechanical hearing aids; Electric tinnitus maskers providing an auditory perception
    • H04R25/60Mounting or interconnection of hearing aid parts, e.g. inside tips, housings or to ossicles
    • H04R25/604Mounting or interconnection of hearing aid parts, e.g. inside tips, housings or to ossicles of acoustic or vibrational transducers
    • H04R25/606Mounting or interconnection of hearing aid parts, e.g. inside tips, housings or to ossicles of acoustic or vibrational transducers acting directly on the eardrum, the ossicles or the skull, e.g. mastoid, tooth, maxillary or mandibular bone, or mechanically stimulating the cochlea, e.g. at the oval window

Abstract

To improve the performance of an implantable hearing prothesis having an implanted microphone, the present invention discloses the use of an acoustic hearing aid to amplify the ambient sound signals. This results in a higher signal level for the implanted microphone, and hence improved performance.

Description

ENHANCED PERFORMANCE IMPLANTABLE MICROPHONE SYSTEM

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to hearing systems which use an implantable microphone.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Hearing prostheses of various types are widely used to improve the lives of users. Such devices include, for example, hearing aids, cochlear implants, middle ear implants and electro-acoustic devices. A current trend is to develop totally implantable forms of these devices. Totally implantable devices have the advantage of allowing the user to have a superior aesthetic result, as the user is visually indistinguishable in day to day activities. They have a further advantage in generally being inherently waterproof, allowing the user to shower, swim, and so forth without needing to take any special measures. Totally implantable devices, relative to partially implantable devices, have two particular requirements. Such devices require at least a degree of electrical storage or other independent power supply to be provided internally. Totally implanted devices having an implanted battery arrangement require periodic recharging, typically using a transcutaneous RF inductive power arrangement. Another issue relates to the provision of a suitable implantable microphone. Conventional hearing prostheses, for example partially implanted cochlear implant systems, use externally disposed microphones. Replacing the external microphone assembly with a subcutaneous microphone assembly presents various practical difficulties. The microphone assembly needs to be hermetically sealed. The thickness of the skin or tissue overlying the microphone acts to attenuate the air-carried sound signals, through directly attenuating the signal. A further loss of signal occurs through impedance matching effects associated with the sound signal passing from air into the body. The implanted microphone is also subject to substantial noise from internal body noises. US patent Nos 6067474 to Schulman and 6556870 to Ziefhofer disclose arrangements in which an external microphone is used to transmit acoustic signals via a wireless link to the implanted device. They therefore avoid the requirement for an implanted microphone. It is an object of the present invention to provide an arrangement for improving the performance of an implanted microphone for a hearing prosthesis.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a broad form, the present invention provides a hearing prosthesis system, in which an external acoustic hearing aid is provided in addition to an implanted microphone, so as to present an amplified signal for detection by the implanted microphone.

According to one aspect, the present invention provides a hearing prosthesis system, including an implantable device having an implantable microphone and a stimulation device, and an externally disposed acoustic hearing aid, said system being operatively arranged so that the acoustic hearing aid amplifies the received sound signal, so as to provide an amplified sound signal for the implanted microphone.

According to another aspect, the present invention provides a method of improving the performance of an implanted microphone, wherein an externally disposed acoustic hearing aid is provided so as to provide an amplified sound signal for the implanted microphone. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Illustrative embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures, in which:

Figure 1 is a view illustrating a prior art totally implanted cochlear implant; and

Figure 2 is a similar view, illustrating one implementation of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention will be described with reference to a particular illustrative example, which is a system intended for use with a totally implantable communication assistance (TICA) system. However, it will be appreciated that the present invention is applicable wherever an implantable microphone is used. It may be applied to a cochlear implant system such as a hybrid electrical/acoustic system, an implantable hearing aid system, a middle ear stimulator, or any other suitable hearing prosthesis. It may be applied to a system with only some implanted components, or to a fully implanted system. It will be appreciated that the present implementation is described for illustrative purposes, and its features are not intended to be limitative of the scope of the present invention. Many variations and additions are possible within the scope of the present invention.

The illustrated prior art TICA system, shown in Figure 1 , is intended to be generally illustrative of the context of the present invention. In general terms, illustrated is an implanted system, including a processor 20, an implanted processor 56, and microphone 10. The operation of the stimulation system, sound processing, and so forth may be of any suitable type, including any of the commercially available devices, and so will not be described in detail. Indeed, the present invention can be applied with any type of implanted microphone.

In this arrangement, the implanted microphone 10 is located under the skin of the outer ear canal wall. Since the microphone sits under a thin layer of skin, the sound is attenuated, typically by about 10 dB. Due to this attenuation, the dynamic range of the signal received by the implanted microphone is lower when compared to an external microphone operating in air. As the signal has a reduced dynamic range, consequently the quality of the input signal to subsequent processing is reduced, and hence the likelihood is that speech perception by the user will also be reduced in quality.

According to the present implementation, the user also wears an in-the-ear hearing aid 210. Hearing aid 210 amplifies the sound, for example by an extra 1O dB, so as to raise the signal level available for detection by the implanted microphone 10, in order to offset the attenuation caused by the skin. In hearing aid 210, the sound is picked up first by the external microphone 200, amplified by amplifier 201 , and then output via speaker 202. The output is into the ear canal, so that the amplified sound is picked up by the implanted microphone 10.

The hearing aid may be of any conventional type, appropriate to the level of amplification required. It is preferred for cosmetic reasons that it be an ITE (in the ear) device. However, the present invention could be implemented with any type of external acoustic amplification arrangement. Whilst the term external hearing aid is used, this is intended to encompass devices partly or fully extending into the ear canal. It is intended to distinguish devices which are accessible from the outside of the user's body from those which are implanted within the body. It will be appreciated that this implementation will still be operable without the external hearing aid. The user can enjoy the full advantages of a totally implanted system, which will still be functional at a reduced level of signal quality without the external device. This is in contrast to systems using a wireless external microphone. The user could opt to have the external device in use or not, depending upon the situation, perhaps analogous to the use of reading glasses.

The location of the implanted microphone and the external hearing aid speaker needs to be considered in conjunction. Other locations apart from the inner ear canal wall are possible. The advantages of improved signal level will be most apparent when the speaker and microphone are in close proximity. A mechanism to assist retaining such proximity, for example a magnet associated with both the microphone and speaker to keep them in the correct relative positions, may be used.

Another implementation may use an implanted microphone which is located in the middle ear, for example as disclosed in US patent application No. 61/061250.

An additional benefit of operating a system using a commercially available hearing aid is that the benefit of various features of such devices can be readily obtained, for example connectivity to accessories, FM systems, telecoils, and pre- processing options like beam-formers and noise reducers. For example, the external microphone may provide an interface to a wireless MP3 or other music reproduction device, a radio, or a telephone interface.

It is emphasised that the present invention may be used whenever an implantable microphone is used. It may be used with a fully implantable cochlear implant (e.g. as shown in US patent Nos. 6067474, and 6358281 ; and US patent application No. 20030171787); a middle ear implant (e.g. as shown in US patent No. 6475134 and WO 2006/058368); an inner ear implant; a bone conducting implant (e.g. WO0193635A1); or an electro-acoustic system, combining electrical, acoustic and/or mechanical stimulation. The implantable microphone used may be of any suitable type. It may be subcutaneous (e.g. as shown in US patent No. 6626822); close to the ear canal (e.g. as shown in US patent Nos. 5814095 and US6394947); in the middle ear (for example as shown in US Patent Nos. 6005955, 6216040, 6473651 , 0616040, 6636768, 6491644, 5906635, 5997466); in the inner ear (e.g. as shown in US patent application No. 20050177204); and combinations of the above (for example US Patent No. 6807445).

The hearing aid used may be a behind the ear (BTE) type, in the ear (ITE), in the canal (ITC)1 bone conduction device, a device with a receiver in the ear or combinations of the above.

For users with residual hearing, the present invention may be used as part of an electroacoustic system. The acoustic stimulation, via the normal pathway

(tympanic membrane, middle ear structures, inner ear) can be used for the acoustic component, whilst an implanted microphone can receive the amplified acoustic signal for use in a totally implanted cochlear stimulation device.

Since not much amplification is generally needed to overcome the attenuation of the implanted microphone, a hearing aid of the type which is intended to aid people with a mild hearing loss can be used. Typically, these hearing aids are very small devices with a long battery life. The AGC in the implant will make sure that the sound is at the right level for the patient both when the external hearing aid is used, and when it is not.

The disclosures of the referenced patents and other documents are hereby incorporated by reference.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A hearing prosthesis system, including an implantable device having an implantable microphone and a stimulation device, and an externally disposed acoustic hearing aid, said system being operatively arranged so that the acoustic hearing aid amplifies the received sound signal, so as to provide an amplified sound signal for the implanted microphone.
2. A hearing prosthesis system according to claim 1 , wherein the acoustic hearing aid operatively provides an output proximate to the implanted microphone.
3. A hearing prosthesis according to claim 1, wherein the prosthesis is operable without the acoustic hearing aid.
4. A hearing prosthesis system according to claim 1 , wherein the acoustic hearing aid is adapted to be at least partially disposed in the ear canal.
5. A hearing prosthesis according to claim 2, wherein a retention mechanism is provided to maintain a desired relationship between the implantable microphone and a speaker from the acoustic hearing aid.
6. A hearing prosthesis system according to claim 1 , wherein the implantable device is a cochlear implant, combined electrical and acoustic stimulator, a neural stimulation device, a middle ear implant, a mechanical stimulator or an implanted hearing aid.
7. A method of improving the performance of an implanted microphone, wherein an externally disposed acoustic hearing aid is provided and positioned so as to provide an amplified sound signal for the implanted microphone.
8. A method according to claim 7, wherein the acoustic hearing aid operatively provides an output proximate to the implanted microphone.
9. A method according to claim 7, wherein the acoustic hearing aid is adapted to be at least partially disposed in the ear canal.
PCT/AU2009/000811 2008-06-25 2009-06-25 Enhanced performance implantable microphone system WO2009155650A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU2008903255A AU2008903255A0 (en) 2008-06-25 Enhanced performance implantable microphone system
AU2008903255 2008-06-25

Applications Claiming Priority (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
EP09768623.2A EP2303204A4 (en) 2008-06-25 2009-06-25 Enhanced performance implantable microphone system
US13/001,556 US20110190568A1 (en) 2008-06-25 2009-06-25 Enhanced performance implantable microphone system

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO2009155650A1 true WO2009155650A1 (en) 2009-12-30

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Family Applications (1)

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PCT/AU2009/000811 WO2009155650A1 (en) 2008-06-25 2009-06-25 Enhanced performance implantable microphone system

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US5906635A (en) 1995-01-23 1999-05-25 Maniglia; Anthony J. Electromagnetic implantable hearing device for improvement of partial and total sensoryneural hearing loss
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Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
EP2303204A4 (en) 2014-06-25
EP2303204A1 (en) 2011-04-06
US20110190568A1 (en) 2011-08-04

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